To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A look at what some riders and readers are saying about Metro’s fare change proposal


By Steve Hymon, March 26, 2014

 Click above to see larger.


As I dearly hope that you’ve heard by now, Metro is proposing a fare increase and changes in order to keep pace with rising costs. A public hearing will be held this Saturday, March 29, at 9:30 a.m. in the Board room at Metro headquarters adjacent to Union Station.

The two options proposed by Metro staff are above for those who have not yet seen them. The Metro Board is scheduled to vote on the fare changes at its meeting on May 22; the Metro Board may ask for changes to the fare proposals before voting on them. There is also more information about the changes on metro.net.

The following are comments from riders gleamed from various websites, including this blog. I think this is a good chance to see what people are saying while highlighting the agency’s response, as well as my own thoughts. Here goes:

Sheriff Bart at Curbed LA: “Charging more for “rush hour” commuting is one way to help keep people in their cars….what a stupid idea. Eliminating transfer fees within a 90-min window is an idea way past due.”
The idea behind the second option was too look at a fare system that would encourage customers with more flexible schedules to ride outside of the rush hour, when seats are in the most demand and often completely filled on many buses and trains.

I’m certainly aware the second option has been criticized by others who also say the increases are too steep. Again, please keep in mind that the Metro Board of Directors has the discretion to choose either option and to make changes to those options before voting to approve one of the two options.

impoundguy at the L.A. Times: Heres a better idea…instead of raising the fares on those who actually PAY to ride…how about getting a little more proactive and coming up with a system that catches the MANY who ride and don’t pay!
There are actually a couple of issues here. The first is the desire of many of our riders to see an increased crackdown on fare evasion. Metro officials say that’s already happening across the system. The Metro Board has also instructed agency staff to provide the Board of cost estimates and other issues involved with installing gates at rail stations that don’t have them. That includes the three rail projects currently under construction, the Crenshaw/LAX Line, Expo Line Phase 22 and the Gold Line Foothill Extension.

The other obvious question is how much money Metro loses to fare evasion. That is currently unknown — tracking fare evasion is difficult because many riders have valid fare cards but don’t always tap them on validators, according to the agency. This much is known: the average fare for Metro is 70 cents. Metro officials say that that money lost to fare evasion plus the money for additional security to lower the fare evasion rate would not cover the increased operating costs and budget deficits that Metro is facing in the future.

Ken W at Human Transit: Another comment that had me thinking twice was that this “free transfers within 90 minutes” is not what it’s cut out to be. The travel time on buses are reliant on street traffic conditions, so going from point A to transfer point is highly dependent on street traffic. And there are also constant delays on our Metro Rail system, especially the Blue and Expo Lines, added to the fact that when you TAP at the validator, it has no correlation to the time that the train actually pulls into the station. You could be waiting as much as 30 minutes on the platform after TAP, not moving, just standing, so you realistically have only 60 minutes to make it to the transfer point, pending no delays.
Both options would include free transfers within 90 minutes. The 90 minutes are from the time you first tap your TAP card on a bus’ farebox or at a rail station’s TAP validators until the time you make your last tap. For example, if you board a bus or train one hour and 29 minutes after first tapping, that’s perfectly valid as part of your original fare.

There are two statistics from Metro staff that are relevant. The first is that according to the latest Metro customer surveys, 63 percent of riders do transfer to complete their journey. As of 2011, 94 percent of Metro trips were completed within 90 minutes, according to a comprehensive rider survey held that year.

The survey defines a trip as the time between the first tap and last tap. There remains, of course, the issue of what happens during major delays — especially ones that equipment related — when a trip that would normally take (for example) an hour instead takes 90 minutes or more. I suspect that’s something that will come up during Board discussions.

Zcvzcvcvxcvzcv at Curbed LA: “Raise it to $2 and make free transfers… I would be in favor of a higher rail price than bus price but that doesn’t seem to be on the table.”
Poo Ping Palace at Curbed LA: “$1.75 a ride is still a bargain in 2014…[SNIP]…A poor person can afford $3 a day for transportation to/from work, but not $3.50 a day? Really? Chances are, with a 90-min transfer policy in effect, even at $2 a ride many poor commuters will actually save money compared to today.”
ImpatientMike at Curbed LA: “$9 Day Pass!!?? Bye Bye, Metro. Hello car. I’m for modest increases in fares but public trans in general needs more tax subsidies. It’s true that lots of poor people would get really pinched by this.”
shanedphillips at Curbed LA: “I’m all for the fare increase tied to more logical transfer policies. I’m not sure why day pass cost increases matter, that seems like a tourist thing regardless. If transfers are free, why would you need a day pass when you can just pay for 2 or 3 independent trips over the course of a day? [SNIP] And coming from Seattle, I can’t help but laugh at people complaining about the increase. Fares there are almost double what they are here, and service really isn’t any better.But as far as the rush hour increased charges, that seems backward. It’s hard to predict the consequences, but it seems like it would be just as likely to get people to drive (perhaps during off-peak hours) as anything. And maybe more importantly, rush hour is when bus service is best, both in terms of frequency and for access to bus-only lanes. Discouraging people from using it at those times seems like a horrible idea.”
Say banana at Curbed LA: “I agree with the new Metro fare proposal. New fare is fair. The only thing that I find stupid in the proposal is the daily pass. If it is $1.75 for 90 mins of free transfers = $7 for four 90 min uses. A daily pass is going to $7. No savings unless you plan to use it constantly throughout the day. The same price for $2 or $2.25. The day pass should be less than 4 trips total and more than the daily rate of a weekly pass. I hope Metro changes the routes for more super rapid routes (like the commuter express) and more very local routes centered around rail lines (like the dash).”
Voiceofsanity at Curbed LA: “Empty buses and trains cannot be subsidized by the taxpayers, and users of Metro system must pay their share. Metro needs to institute fair use pricing (these increases are not enough), with discounted weekly/monthly tickets, and a heavily discounted program for low income individuals who prove their income.”
Ridethebus at Curbed LA: “Los Angeles is a city where the majority of people still do not take transit. I think we should keep transit not just affordable, but strongly competitive versus driving in order to convert more people to transit (congestion, air quality benefits), Given the benefits, I believe introducing a congestion relief tax or county fuel tax to fund transit operations, boosting filming/ad revenue, and allowing stores in stations for rent would be much better funding sources than hiking fares like this.”
Rdm24 at Long Beach Post: “”We looked at our whole fare structure and said, is this really fair to our riders?” Metro spokesman Marc Littman told the L.A. Times. We actually penalize our passengers for trying to use the system more efficiently.” I am thrilled to see him recognize this, but I am flabbergasted they didn’t realize their transfer policy was broken from the start.”
ubrayj02 at L.A. Streetsblog: “I don’t understand how Metro builds these expensive train and bus stations that are 100% auto-dominated, with vast parking lagoons, with no bathrooms, and no on-site concessions and then (surprisingly) can’t recover enough money to pay for their operations. Ever tried to buy an ad with Metro? Small locally owned companies need not apply. Ever tried to open a concession with Metro? Don’t even bother. Ever tried to go to the bathroom on Metro? Just find a stairwell or elevator. How about a lower bar for bus and train ads? How about some manned pay toilets? How about some mom & pop newsagents and food vendors at stations that can support them? How about making Metro stations human-scale and commerce friendly? How about charging for parking in all those Metro lots? How about re-orienting your stations to the pedestrian and not the motorist? Instead of cutting operations, focus intensely on getting parasitic freeway driving commuters to see transit as viable – cut freeway services! Cut the free towing, cut the office building full of highway engineers. How much “fare box” recovery or sales tax is being generated for Metro through these horrible road widenings and freeway projects? I am willing to bet everything I own that they are worse money losers than nearly every transit project in Metro right now in terms of their “fare box recovery.”
There are several issues raised. I’ll try to tackle each:

•Metro staff do not want to create separate fares for buses and trains. The idea is to keep the fares the same in order to encourage the most efficient use of the transit network — if it’s faster to take a train, Metro wants people to take the train rather than stay on a slower bus.

•On that note, a word about distance-based fares, which are frequently discussed on this blog’s comments board. Metro staff say that distance-based fares pose several difficult challenges, namely that Metro currently doesn’t ask bus riders to tap out and that many Metro Rail stations lack gates that serve as a good reminder for people to tap out.

•The people most likely to save money from the proposed fare changes would be those who currently use a $5 day pass to get to and from a single destination over the course of a day (i.e. going from home to work and back). The fare for some of those riders under the first option would be $3.50 a day (two $1.75 fares), a savings of $1.50 over the current day pass. Of course, that’s assuming they can tap in to all segments of their journey within 90 minutes.

•The increases for pass holders reflects the fact that they are heaviest users of the system, according to Metro officials. Under the proposals, day passes would most likely be used by those who intend to travel a lot on Metro at many different hours of the day.

•As for comments about improving rail station environments and making rent money from stations, I think that’s fair criticism to some degree — retail is lacking at most Metro Rail stations. In some cases, that’s because of lack of space but there do seem to be stations that could accommodate businesses or something to help energize them. However, I remain skeptical that revenues from vendors or mom-n-pop shops on Metro property would be enough to cover the enormous cost of running a vast bus-rail system without occasional fare increases.

•The decision in 2008 to get rid of transfers was done, in part, to discourage fraud that was taking place at the time (i.e. people selling phony transfers or transfers they didn’t need) and to try to recapture some lost revenue. Others have argued — in particular, transportation planner Jarrett Walker — that the ability to transfer is an integral part of creating an efficient transit network.

Train Operator in Chicago Crash Had Fallen Asleep


By Jason Keyser, March 26, 2014

The operator of a Chicago commuter train that crashed at O'Hare International Airport acknowledged she dozed off before the accident and had also done so last month when she overshot a station platform, a federal investigator said Wednesday.

Before the crash, the operator had been running trains on the nation's second-largest public transportation system for just two months. In Monday's accident, which injured more than 30 people, she woke up only as the eight-car train jolted onto the platform and barreled up an escalator leading into the airport. The accident occurred around 3 a.m., as the driver was nearing the end of her shift. The woman had an erratic work schedule and investigators were looking to see if that played a role in her evident fatigue.

"She did admit that she dozed off prior to entering the station. She did not awake again until the train hit," National Transportation Safety Board investigator Ted Turpin said at a final on-site briefing at the airport. Nearby, workers with electric saws and face shields were cutting up the lead train car, sending bright orange sparks flying, as they prepared to remove the wreckage.

Turpin and other officials interviewed the train operator Tuesday and were investigating her training, scheduling and disciplinary history. He described her as cooperative and "very forthcoming."

The NTSB said the operator told investigators that in February she dozed off on the job and partially missed a station. CTA officials said their records showed the operator said she "closed her eyes for a moment" and only one car passed the station.

"The CTA became aware of that almost immediately and a supervisor admonished her and had a discussion with her," Turpin said, adding that a reprimand was the only step required under the local agency's disciplinary guidelines, which increase in severity after multiple violations.

The operator is on "injured on duty" status, the CTA said, and faces discipline up to and including discharge for the incident Monday, which was her second safety violation.

She told investigators she was not taking any medications. Results from a drug-and-alcohol test had not come back yet.

Investigators were also looking closely at a backup emergency braking system located on the track that was triggered by the train but ultimately failed to stop it from plowing onward. It is possible that the triggering mechanism was not located far back enough to stop the train, which entered the station at a normal speed of about 25 mph, Turpin said.

The train was also equipped with a spring-loaded handle designed to engage the brakes if an operator's hand comes off the controls. The operator told investigators she could not remember if she released it but assumed she continued to grip it even as she fell asleep.

Turpin said the operator was an extra-board employee, meaning she filled in to cover shifts for regular employees and her hours varied from one day to the next.

"She would call in the morning or at the end of shift to find out when she would work the next day," he said, adding that she had overslept on one occasion and was late for work.

The union representing the operator has said she was working a lot of overtime recently and was exhausted. The CTA said she had more than the eight-hour off-duty time required before starting her shift.

The crash caused about $6 million worth of damage to equipment. There was no estimate for damage caused to the station. The CTA said it would reduce the speed of trains entering the O'Hare station and move switches meant to stop speeding trains so they engage earlier.

Photos released by the NTSB showed the battered lead car had been thrown at an angle so far up the escalator that someone could comfortably walk beneath it. The exposed escalator machinery was shredded.

Attorneys for several injured passengers have sued the transit agency, alleging negligence. A CTA spokesman said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

Video: Chicago Transit Authority train derailment at O'Hare Airport station


March 26, 2014


The Fuzzy Math in the Road Lobby’s Memo to Congress


By Tanya Snyder, March 25, 2014

ARTBA would prefer that you not look too closely at this graph. Thank you for your cooperation. Image: Doug Short/##http://www.investing.com/analysis/vehicle-miles-driven:-another-population-adjusted-low-206969##Investing##

ARTBA would prefer that you not look too closely at this graph. Thank you for your cooperation. 

 Don’t know what to make of the news that U.S. driving rates have dropped for the ninth year in a row? Looking for guidance about whether your state or city should be wantonly expanding roads or investing in transit, biking, and walking? The road lobby thinks you should turn to them for independent, unbiased analysis of these trends. Never fear, the road lobby says: Americans are driving more than ever. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. More lanes for everybody!

That’s the word from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, which issued a memo Friday [PDF] to Congressional aides clarifying some “false claims” about transportation trends.
In virtually every recent congressional hearing and many media reports about federal transportation policy, the false claim that “Americans are driving less” emerges in some capacity. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) data show U.S. vehicle miles traveled (VMT) increased 0.3 percent in 2012 and 0.6 percent in 2013. The upward trend is anticipated to continue well into the future as the nation’s economy and population continues to grow. This factual disconnect confuses discussions about the relative viability of various means to stabilize the Highway Trust Fund and support future federal highway and public transportation investments. The reality is that American driving trends are driven largely by macro-economic forces, not agenda-seizing assertions about shifts in societal behavior.
Take that, agenda seizers! See, VMT is increasing — albeit slower than the population, and slower than transit ridership. Drivers have already made up a third of the miles “lost” since the recession (and surely they’ll make up the rest any day now). The last 70 months of stagnant driving is nothing but a blip. Right?

Actually, if you look at per capita driving, it’s been 102 months of solid decline now.

The road lobby wants to convince Congress that driving will start growing steadily again. State DOTs have been making the same prediction for years, and they’ve been wrong every time:

VMT predictions from U.S. DOT, compared with actual VMT. Ain't no reality check obvious enough. Image: ##http://www.ssti.us/2014/03/u-s-dot-highway-travel-demand-estimates-continue-to-overshoot-reality/##SSTI##
VMT predictions from U.S. DOT (collected from the states), compared to actual VMT.

Though ARTBA charges that “the reported VMT decline between 2007 and 2011 has been seized by those whose aim is to push for federal policy that prioritizes non-automobile forms of transportation,” the organization is unabashedly pushing for antiquated and unsustainable policies that entrench automobile dependence and relentless roadway expansion:
Each year, the U.S. population grows just under three million, and the number of licensed drivers grows two million. With each driver in the U.S. averaging just under 12,000 miles per year, population growth alone will drive VMT up about 25 billion miles per year.
Sure, in the nineties, there were years in which VMT grew by up to 87 billion miles. Even as recently as 2005, driving spiked 72 billion miles over the course of a single year. But no longer. Total driving has dropped an average of 3.6 billion miles a year for the last eight years.

No one knows exactly what will happen in the future. But when the current shift away from driving offers the potential to unlock a healthier and more sustainable future, with expanded transportation options and all the benefits of reducing automobile dependence, why would we follow ARTBA’s prescription and bet the bank on outdated modes?

Meet the new California, where Paris Hilton isn’t cool but walking, biking, and transit are


By Samantha Larson, March 26, 2014


California was full of regrettable trends in the early aughts: Paris Hilton, Juicy Couture tracksuits, chockers, screamo, and, apparently, everyone driving 89 percent of the time. But a recent California Household Travel Survey shows some Golden State residents have thankfully traded in their Ugg boots for transit passes.

Californians now walk to their destination twice as much as they used to; the proportion of their trips made by foot is up from 8.4 percent in 2000 to 16.6 percent.

The study, which is based on the behavior of 109,000 people from more than 42,000 households over the course of 2012, also shows that more Californians are biking and using public transit to get around. In total, the amount of carless trips went from 11 percent in 2000 to 23 percent.

“Californians are increasingly choosing alternatives to driving a car for work and play,” Mart D. Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, said in a recent press release. “That’s a shift with real benefits for public health that also cuts greenhouse gas emissions and smog-forming pollution.”

The Federal Highway Administration has the nation’s trips by foot growing from 8.9 percent in 2001 to 11.5 percent in 2009. We hope this means America is speed-walking to catch up with California, which is often thought of as the national trendsetter for all things green. And maybe the plans in action to get even more Californians to make the habit of low-emissions transit, through initiatives like the Active Transportation Program, will get the wheels turning elsewhere, too. The program plans to distribute $129 million to transportation projects that will get more people out walking and biking – they’re currently calling for proposals to apply to get a piece of the pie.

Next time you Los Angelenos out there find yourselves yet again stuck in standstill traffic on the 405, just think of the possibility that you could be out actually enjoying all that sunshine. Sometimes, it turns out that all you need is a good pair of shoes.

Keeping groundwater at bay crucial in Bertha’s repair plan

 The repair pit for tunnel-boring machine Bertha requires watertight walls, to keep groundwater surges from thwarting the work, or causing the ground to settle.


Sylvia Plummer:  Here's something we should be concerned about, since the SR-710 tunnel will go thru two aquifers.

By Mike Lindblom, March 25, 2014

As engineers design a

pit from which to repair tunnel-boring machine Bertha, they must conquer the threat of groundwater losses that might sink Pioneer Square buildings.

The emerging plan calls for a watertight ring of buried shafts, allowing the dirt within to be scooped away, to form a circular work zone. Bertha would then grind its way into this concrete-walled pit from the south, before repairs begin midyear.

Most of the shafts will be 7 feet in diameter, to resist tremendous soil and water pressures. Part of the ring will include not only a row of new columns, but have a dual row, by incorporating some of the buried columns that were previously installed to protect the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Concrete grout must be injected to fill any gaps — not only in the ring, but several yards to the south.
The worries are twofold.

Groundwater might pour into the repair pit, hampering workers and equipment as they remove the giant cutterhead, and fix or replace the damaged main bearing.

And if groundwater suddenly rushes in, the water loss elsewhere could destabilize old buildings in Pioneer Square, or the viaduct itself.

Previously, Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP) installed a protective north-south line of buried pillars, to shield the viaduct from Bertha’s vibrations. Gaps of 5 inches were left between them, to let groundwater migrate more-or-less normally. Now in a design change, STP’s pit designer, Brierley Associates, is proposing to fill those gaps with grout. That way, water wouldn’t follow Bertha into the pit.

“Part of the plan includes sealing the pilings placed along the tunnel route, to prevent water from getting inside the access pit when the machine breaks through the wall,” said Matt Preedy, deputy Highway 99 administrator for the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Groundwater cannot be taken lightly, the project’s history shows:

Tests performed in 2002 and 2010 indicated the water content near 35 percent in soil where Bertha is stranded, at South Main Street. This generates a pressure nearly three times that of the atmosphere.
• Inspectors inside the machine on Dec. 7, the day Bertha overheated and stalled, report that the cutting head was too flooded for workers to open a hatch in the machine to take a look.

• On Dec. 23-24, when crews pumped away groundwater (in test runs for January inspections) some buildings in Pioneer Square temporarily sank by up to a quarter-inch, says a report by Bender Consulting, of Camano Island, released to The Seattle Times under a public-records request. Afterward, they rebounded to a net loss of only one-tenth inch.

• A similar Canadian repair pit in 1994 in Sarnia, Ontario, caused ground sinkage several yards away, while crews added extra pilings to fend off oozing mud.

The repair ring in Seattle will be 83 feet in diameter and 120 feet deep, according to diagrams Preedy showed the City Council on Monday.

“The designers are currently predicting not only what sort of effects the viaduct might see from that shaft, but also any buildings in Pioneer Square,” he said.

Also, contractors are designing a temporary noise wall, in hopes of working through the night. STP has said drilling might restart by Sept. 1 at the earliest. 

Metro's First Priority is Always Safety

From Sylvia Plummer, March 26, 2014

This letter appeared in the Pasadena Star News on Tuesday, March 25, 2014.  I've been unable to find the direct link to this Opinion Letter, but here it is typed out for you to read:

In response to Michael Montgomery's letter "Great Danger Lurks in 710 Freeway," March 17.
The public should be assured Metro's first priority is safety.  If the freeway tunnel alternative were to be selected, all safety measures and vehicles regulations as required by law will be enforced.  (My Question:  Where are the laws regarding 5 story high and 5 mile long tunnels without exits?  This is the first one that I know of in the United States)
It is premature to concentrate on one alternative to the exclusion of four others prior to the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement EIR/EIS Report.  (My Question:  Then why are politicians/Metro Board Members such as Gloria Molina and Antonovich making statements in support of a tunnel?)
(And then here is Metro's standard ending statement)  Metro is currently studying five alternatives as part of the SR-710 North study.
1.  No build;  2.  Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM)'  3.  Bus Rapid Transit (BRT):  4.  Light Rail Transit (LRT);  5.  the freeway tunnel.
The draft SR-710 North report, a regional transportation study, will be available for the public to review and comment on later this spring.
-- Frank Quon, P.E., Executive Officer, Highway Programs, Los Angeles County Metro

Schiff urges Caltrans to extend 710 Freeway public comment period


March 25, 2014

In a letter to Caltrans Monday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) urged transportation officials to extend the amount of time cities will have to respond to an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) related to the 710 Freeway expansion project, expected to be released this spring.

Currently, members of the public have 60 days to respond to the report’s conclusions. Cities or agencies who wish to conduct their own studies to analyze those findings are held to the same time window.

 Schiff addressed his letter to Carrie Bowen, the director of District 7 overseeing Los Angeles and Ventura counties, requesting the period be extended to 120 days to allow for an adequate response.

“The current 60 day public comment period does not provide sufficient time to thoroughly review an environmental document that will likely be hundreds of pages and will include the technical analysis of a complex 6.3 mile long tunnel alignment,” Schiff wrote.

La CaƱada and the surrounding impacted cities of Glendale, Pasadena, South Pasadena and Sierra Madre have formed a 5 City Alliance, pooling their money and resources to respond as quickly as possible once the EIR is released.

The alliance, which has already secured its own consultants to examine the Metro/Caltrans findings, is most concerned with the dual-bore tunnel being floated as one way to connect the freeway from its terminal ends in Alhambra and Pasadena.

Report: In Cutting Emissions, CAHSR Expensive Compared to Local Upgrades


By Melanie Curry, March 25, 2014

 Go to the website for a video.

UCLA’s Lewis Center published a report yesterday finding that California’s High-Speed Rail project is a relatively expensive way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the near-term, compared to upgrading local transit and bicycle infrastructure.

Comparing CAHSR to Los Angeles Metro’s Gold Line light-rail and Orange Line bus rapid transit route and bikeway, the report finds high-speed rail to be the least cost-efficient investment the state could make.

The high-speed rail project costs more per metric tonne of GHG emissions than the current cost of allowances under cap-and-trade, the report says. If the savings costs to users are included in the calculations, then the light-rail, busway, and bikeway projects cost far less than the cap-and-trade auction price, which makes them more cost-effective ways to meet the emission reduction goals set out in California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, A.B. 32.

“There are a lot of projects that can reduce GHG emissions,” said Juan Matute, one of the report’s authors. “And differentiating between them will become more important in the future. One way is to look at the cost-effectiveness of the reductions.”

Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed cap-and-trade expenditure plan includes $250 million for high-speed rail to be spent in the next year alone, but very little for other transit or bicycle and pedestrian projects. High-speed rail isn’t scheduled to be online until 2029, so the savings it yields won’t help meet the state’s 2020 emission reductions goals. Meanwhile, the funds could be used for more local investments such as transit services or bicycle and pedestrian connections that would reduce GHG emissions more quickly.

The report’s authors, Matute and Mikhail Chester, compared life-cycle costs of the projects, including construction and operation, and estimated emission savings based on peer-reviewed estimates of how many people would shift from driving to using each of the new facilities. They also looked at the amount of money that users save on each type of transit.

“It’s about mode shift,” said Matute. Light-rail attracts the highest portion of commuters to shift from driving among transport modes (light-rail projects typically yield a 52 percent shift). But the Orange Line bike path, which only sees about a 4.5 percent shift from driving, yielded the highest per-rider emissions reduction due to the low cost.

Adapted from “Cost-Effectiveness of Reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions from California High-Speed Rail and Urban Transportation Projects” by Juan M. Matute and Mikhail V. Chester

“Anything that costs more than $11.48 per metric tonne of emissions (the current price under California’s cap-and-trade auctions) is a less cost-effective way to achieve emission reductions,” said Matute. “At the current price, high-speed rail’s cost of $361 per metric tonne is very high.”

The report estimated the transportation costs individuals save on by taking transit. “Greenhouse gas emissions aside,” said Matute, “the Gold and Orange lines produce cost savings to their users.”

These SF Billboards Are Now Plastered With Photos of Distracted Drivers


By Jenny Xie, March 25, 2014

Blown away by how many people use their cell phones on the freeway, San Francisco graphic designer Brian Singer came up with a new way to raise awareness of the risky behavior.

Singer recently started the website Texting While In Traffic, where he's been collecting photos of distracted drivers (Singer assured Gizmodo that the photos were taken by passengers, not drivers). He's now blown up some of the images for display on 11 billboards throughout San Francisco. The hope is that the photos will freak people out enough that they'll stop.

While it's not entirely clear that every driver pictured was actually texting, the situations all look precarious nonetheless.